My Olympus E-PL1 Workflow and Re-Review

Okay, as promised in my previous post, you shall see my crappy shots in this post. Again, I seriously think my shots aren’t half as good as some of those Olympus Brand Store Guys. But, still I really enjoyed the shooting session with the whole bunch of them. Join me for photography workshop in future. It’s fun!

I have been getting quite a number of questions emailed to me regarding the use of the Olympus digital PEN E-P1/2/L1… so I’ve decided to list down here how I usually “manage” the camera.

1. I shoot in P mode when I just wanna concentrate on getting the shot, the expression, the action, irregardless of the depth-of-field. In fact, I want a deeper depth-of-field in order to quickly capture a moment, minimizing the risk of getting things out-of-focus. “F8 and be there.” Like Weegee said.

2. Using the camera in P mode when there’s sufficient light, i.e. when ISO does not automatically go up to 1600 with corresponding aperture of F3.5-5.6 for the kit lens is fine for the “F8 and be there concept”. Yes, I use Auto-ISO too. Sometimes, when I want more control, I will set the ISO manually.

But for lowlight usage, WATCH your shutter speed. Even with the Image Stabilization (IS) ON, a slow shutter speed CANNOT freeze action. Image Stabilization helps to capture non-moving subjects in sharpness when shutter speed is slow.

3. To speed up the camera, I always TURN OFF the automatic preview on my LCD and use my camera in Sequential Shooting Mode. To capture a certain action, I usually shoot 2-3 frames to get the best shapes and forms. I also hardly “chimp”, i.e. look at previews when I shoot. I don’t wanna lose a moment while “chimping”!

4. In my personal opinion and experience with different brands of digital cameras, I found out that Olympus’s RAW files are not all that “tweakable” as compared to the other brands. I figured out that since I am not getting a whole lot more from it’s RAW files, unlike the Canons or Nikons where the tolerance can go as far as 3-4 stops, I’d rather shoot Olympus JPEGs. I also figured out that the Normal JPEGs are good enough for me for general usage as I find no visible difference comparing them to the Fine JPEGs.

However, if I need to use the camera to shoot any stuff that’s exceptionally important, I will still shoot RAW, more for my mental and emotional consolation. Olympus’s JPEGs are about the BEST you can find in the world. The only other brands which I think can come close to it are Leica and maybe Pentax. Okay, I know I may sound subjective, but look at the skin tones! Any colors on any inanimate objects can lie BUT skin colors DON’T LIE! (If you still disagree with me, okay.. it’s my personal taste, alright?)

5. The E-PL1 has much lesser noise at high ISOs as compared to the E-P1 and E-P2, so I am more confident using it at ISO1600-3200.

6. According to Steve Huff’s review, he complained that the movie-record button on the E-PL1’s back can be easily and accidentally depressed BUT I have since found out that it only takes less than 5 steps to OFF the switch permanently in the menu system! No Issue At All! Just OFF it and use the same shutter button for recording video and stills. (Menu-Button-oFunction-Off)

7. I shoot in A mode when I wanna shoot at specific apertures to achieve the depth-of-field I want.

8. I prefer P mode over the E-PL1’s i-auto mode as I don’t like the i-enhance to be always ON as it does in the i-auto mode. Personal preference.

9. Generally, Olympus JPEGs can be a little under-exposed. So some brightening is usually necessary at post-processing. Or for the E-PL1 users, you can choose to use it’s Live Guide, which is “idiot-proof”. If you know digital cameras, a little under-exposed is definitely better than over-exposed as burnt highlights in digital files can never be restored.

10. When using the Pin-hole Art Filter, images may seem a little under-exposed too, so some brightening at post-processing stage will be good.

11. When using the Grainy B&W Art Filter, avoid high contrast scenes as highlights can easily be washed out!

12. If you are a fervent Art Filter Fan, I suggest you shoot RAW and choose your desired Art Filter in Olympus Software afterwards so you can enjoy shooting without having to wait for the “almost forever” in-camera Art Filter processing. Those few seconds can mean eternity when you are out there.

Okay, finally, there’s ONE THING I hate about the E-PL1!

It DOES NOT HAVE AN ORIENTATION SENSOR! Which means, I have to manually rotate all my vertical shots! Olympus, is it that expensive to have this included in the E-PL1? This should already be the norm among all digital cameras of year 2010!

Here are my shots from the street shoot, constructive comments are welcomed!

Drying her hair by the roadside, hip shot.

Pinhole Art Filter Effect

Prostitute outside motel entrance, hip shot. I forgot to watch my shutter speed!

panned shot of man walking past


Fierce! Hip Shot.

Pin Hole Art Filter


My small reflection in-between.


Security Guard


Diorama Art Filter

Diorama Art Filter

Pop Art Filter, shot by manually focusing till patterns appear

The following are two shots by the NEW 9-18mm M-Zuiko Lens. This is such a small, compact and sharp lens with good close focusing distance! It’s in stock!

Shot with NEW 9-18mm M-Zuiko Lens

Another shot by the NEW 9-18mm M-Zuiko Lens

Lastly, the bunch of Olympus PEN Street Shooters! Shot by a stranger. Isn’t it great to have an “idiot-proof” camera for a stranger to hold? I’m sure the in-camera IS helped. LOL…

Malaysia Olympus Brand Store Street Shooters!

Related Posts:

1. BEST Street Photography Machine

2. Photo-enthusiasts ROCKS!

3. The Power of Small Cameras

4. E-PL1 Review

5. More about the E-PL1

4 thoughts

  1. Hi, at the moment I am researching with my iphone four new design ideas and so I have identified your web site. Your layout is really uncomplicated but also compare it for a posts. I think I would use it for my 1st draft. Thank you for this concept!

  2. Hello,

    Thank you so much for your insightful info on the E-PL1 and the beautiful pictures taken with it!

    I am a E420 user and am planning to upgrade to E620.
    I did some research on E620 and that’s how I found out about the E-PL1, which then lead me to the Olympus Facebook page and eventually came to your site.

    After reading your posts on the E-PL1, I am in a dilemma, I don’t know whether I should go for E620 or E-PL1 now.

    What attracted me to the E-PL1 is it’s size because I almost do shooting only when travelling. On the other hand, I’ve also learned about the negative comments on the slow AF and electronic viewfinfer on the E-PL1.

    I know it is inappropriate to ask for your suggestion about camera purchase here, but I would really appreciate it if you could help me to choose between these two cameras!

    Alternatively, you may write direct to my e-mail, thank you in advance!

  3. ST,

    The MAIN Difference between the E-620(DSLR) and E-PL1(PEN) is the lack of the optical viewfinder(mirror box/prism). The “blackout time” between each frame you shoot for the DLSR is the time when the mirror flips up and down-which is MUCH faster than Live View(the PEN), as frame to frame refresh rate on Live View is electronic, NOT mechanical. Until technology improves in the Live View Refresh Rate, we suffer a longer “blackout time” from frame to frame when we use Live View(whether it’s Live View shooting on a DSLR or the PEN).

    If you can live with this ONE main disadvantage-the slower refresh rate of Live View on the E-PL1, you get many more other advantages on the E-PL1 like 1. a much smaller camera system, 2. a lot more choices in using manual focus lenses of all kinds including vintage lenses/cine lenses, etc. 3. a better image processor (better high ISO for example) on the E-PL1 than the E620 (the next PEN should have at least the same newest processor as the latest E-5), etc.

    Not-to-forget, you should expect more NEW lenses coming up for the M43(PEN) system than the E620, as Olympus has announced “no plans to produce any new 43rd lenses in the near future”.

  4. Thank you so much for the details on the 2 cameras, at least I have a clearer idea now, really appreciate it!